Apeel, a California-based agtech company, yesterday closed its Series E funding round, bringing in $250m to raise the firm’s total valuation to $2bn.
The Bill and Melinda Gates-backed company has created an edible layer that is applied to fruits and vegetables to slow the rate at which they go off. Using this tech, the firm collaborates with local growers and commercial-scale food brands to try and reduce the amount of food that ends up in landfill. According to the company, its tech uses the lipids ‘already found in the skins, peels, and seeds of all fruits and vegetables’ to make the final product. This water-based film prevents oxidation and water loss from the produce and thus extends its shelf life.
The latest funding round was led by Singapore-based state fund Temasek – which is an existing investor of the startup – while other big name investors included YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, and pop star Katy Perry.
“The pandemic has completely shaken up food retail: people are increasingly buying their fresh produce online, while simultaneously expecting the best in terms of quality and sustainability,” Apeel co-founder and CEO James Rogers said in a press release announcing the latest financing round. “We’ll use our latest funding to help our supplier and retailer partners offer a differentiated experience to their shoppers.”
Apeel currently works alongside 40 retailers and 30 suppliers across eight countries in Europe and North America to bring its technology to wide-scale use. In September last year, the company announced it had entered a partnership with US retailer Walmart to bring ‘plastic free cucumbers’ to more than 100 of its stores. According to the group’s press release, the latest round of funding will be partially used to bring at least 10 new suppliers on board before the year is up.
Around a third of the food produced in our farms never make it to the table, and the food wasted contributes to 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Apeel has made it its mission to target this problem, and bring ‘abundance for all’.